Math RPG

Three weeks ago I wrote about turning my math class into a game. By then the game had already begun, and now the game’s about to wrap up–our final boss battle is on Monday.

Yesterday, however, I gave my students a survey to get feedback on the game, mainly to see if it had been effective and, if so, if I should continue the game into second semester. It required a lot of planning to make it happen, and with semester 2 starting on Tuesday, it’ll take a lot of energy today and tomorrow to get prepared for the game to continue.

So I’m writing this post for three reasons. First, I want to share what I’ve done so other educators can learn from an unofficial case study. Second, I want to process my students’ feedback. And third, I want to brainstorm and plan how to keep it going.

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The Inevitable Return of Pokemon Wednesday: A Retrospective

Can you believe I’ve been blogging for ten years? It’s true: I first created The Writingwolf on January 1, 2010. (That’s why my Twitter and Instagram handles are Writingwolf2010.) A whole decade of blogging has passed. My life has changed in many insurmountable and unpredictable ways, but one thing has always remained: My love of Pokemon.

On the surface, Pokemon is a game about collecting and competition. There’s the challenge of getting all the things, then there’s the challenge of battling and defeating all the other things. It’s the best possible fusion of stamp collecting and Rock-Paper-Scissors that has ever been made. And yet, if this is all you get from Pokemon, you’re missing a lot.

Pokemon–as I’ve addressed at various times throughout the life of my blog–is also a game about adventure, overcoming adversity, and constantly challenging yourself to explore, fail, get up again, learn, grow, and then repeated the process to become a better person. It’s a perfect parable for the journey of life itself.

I’ve been wanting to do a grand reflection on my last ten years of blogging, but I just haven’t felt inspired. Then it came to me: Why not use my unending love for Pokemon as the vehicle through which I explore the last decade of my life (and then some)?

So with no further ado, let the adventure begin.

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Probably Potter

Do you play Harry Potter: Wizards Unite?

I’m a math guy. I understand the nuance of probability and the fact it’s often counter-intuitive. And yet, when I try to explain that to friends, it gets lost in translation.

So I decided I’d do some digging and write about how we often misinterpret probabilistic possibilities (and why do it), and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is the perfect medium to discuss it in a future post. But to make it work, I need your help.

I’m conducting a probability survey and I need players to gather and submit data. The time commitment is yours to decide–you can do it for 30 minutes or a whole week.

On July 30, Wizards Unite’s next event begins: Potter’s Brilliant Calamity. New Brilliant Golden Snitches will be appearing everywhere, and this is what makes it so perfect: There is only one Foundable encounter that appears during this event, and it will have the same rarity / catch rate / recovery chance for all players. This means we can gather a large data set to more easily demonstrate how probability underlies the gameplay.

And so how probability often Confounds us when we try to understand it.

Your job, should you accept it, is simple: Play Wizards Unite and keep track of your spells cast when encountering the Brilliant Golden Snitch. Was it Fair, Good, Great, or Masterful? Did it result in success or failure? Aside from Dawdle Droughts, avoid using Exstimulo Potions–those will change the probability of success, and thereby, negatively impact the data. Once you’ve got your tallies, just submit them using the form below.

Probably Potter: Data Collection

After the event ends, I’ll compile the data, crunch some numbers, and report back with a detailed analysis about why probability sometimes seems so…improbable.

Story: New Years Future

Yesterday I looked back at how Story has driven me. Today, the first day of the new year, I look forward: This is not an outline of goals or resolutions, but a declaration of intent.

There are, I fear, still too many unanswered questions in my life, within my soul, and there has never been (in my lifetime, at least) a more apparent time of open conflict in our country than there is now: As the alchemists said, as above, so below, and I extend this idea to “as around, as within.” Perhaps I cannot quell the conflict around me, but if I can calm the questioning inside, perhaps that feeling will spread outward to others.

And if not, I’ll at least be better prepared to live my best life regardless of the world around me. Let it all fall into chaos: then I shall still stand tall and true.

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Story: New Years Past

There is, at our very deepest, a driving force for each of us. It fuels the beating of hearts, the breath filling our lungs, the meter of our feet and the cadence of our speech.

I suppose most people never know their driving force–it’s far too deep, you see, and in a world with an attention span hardly longer than a few seconds, I doubt most of us can hold our breaths long enough to dive so deep within to find it.

But, perhaps, I’ve stumbled upon mine.

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The African Pokemon Safari

When Pokemon Go launched a little more than a year ago, players quickly discovered that some Pokemon were regional exclusives–that in order to catch ’em all, you’d have to travel the world.

And by the world, Pokemon Go meant North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

But fear not, global majorities! Gen II made this distribution more equal.

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Pokemon Go: A Retrospective

One year and two days ago, Pokemon Go reinvented the mobile gaming landscape and reignited a craze that has gone on for over two decades. But in the wake of early crashes and frenzied, frustrated players, how far has the game come, and how much further must it go not only to satisfy its fans but also to survive?

In this retrospective, we will confront the major problems still blighting players and lay forth some suggestions for how Nintendo and Niantic can overcame these ails. In particular, we will focus on three themes: player engagement through playing together, the updated Gym system and the game’s multiple currencies, and the inequality perpetuated by the game mechanics themselves.

So join me on this adventure and get ready to Go.

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Pokemon Wednesday: This is the Best Clickbait-Inspired Title I Could Think of, and Here’s Why

I have a confession to make: I didn’t study for my algebraic topology midterm because I couldn’t stop playing Pokemon.

The truth is, for the last eighteen years (and I’m turning 27, so that’s two-thirds of my life), Pokemon has been one of the few constants from year to year: Pokemon was there when I played with my friends in Hebrew school; Pokemon was there when my parents my separated and I went back and forth between my parents houses while my mom was at school; and Pokemon was there when I began college myself and needed something, or anything, to pass the time when I wasn’t studying.

And Pokemon was also there when I should’ve been studying last week. In fact, Pokemon–in its many iterations–has been keeping me from homework for a long time.

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